WEST MICHIGAN -- It's a program that's cutting down on waste while feeding children in need: share tables.
Kids can sometimes be picky and not not like everything that's served up at lunch. That means a lot of wasted food. Now, schools across Michigan have found a way to put unwanted lunch items to good use.
It all started with federal requirements that kids have fruits and vegetables with lunch, foods not so popular with some students. Slowly, share tables with bins, bowls and buckets of unwanted food started showing up all over the state.
"When we started to have the food that student's didn't want, we'd have a situation where other students would want it," said Dan Gorman, Food Service Director for Montague Area Schools.
More than 13 million children live in food insecure homes in the U.S. In Michigan, more than 50 percent of students in the state are on free or reduced lunch. Many Michigan students depend on those two school meals a day to avoid hunger.
"I think in our communities and most communities in West Michigan that there are some of those families, and so being able to help and supplement those families, that's a good thing," Gorman said.
With students picking up what others may leave behind, schools are seeing a drop in food waste.
"We're always looking for ways to reduce waste so that was one part of it but the other part of it is that some kids were still a little hungry and so they might want a little bit more so we wanted to provide a place that they can go with no stigma and just grab something extra to have for lunch or breakfast," Gorman said.
State food laws don't prohibit the sharing of food, but recommend that foods are pre-wrapped and fruits and vegetables must be uncut.